Friday, November 28, 2014

Reaching the Right Readers

Being Discovered (Part 4)

Who are the right readers?  The ones who will enjoy my stories.  Sure, it’s satisfying to write a novel – to bring a story from conception to finished manuscript is a great gift.  Seeing it published is another big blessing.  But the best reward is when someone reads it and feels it was time well spent.  So how do I get my books into those people’s hands?

If I’ve done my job as an independent publisher, I’ve not only got a story that’s ready for the right reader, I’ve also got the title, cover and description that should grab their interest.  Whatever I’ve done to try to increase a book’s visibility, those are the elements that will (or won’t) attract someone’s attention.  And I’m happy when even one person takes the time to read one of my books and likes it.  But what I’m really looking for is the reader who enjoys it enough to want more.

I want as many of those people as possible to discover my books.  There’s not much I can do about that though.  That’s because for the most part people rely on hearing from other readers about new books by new (to them) authors.  So the best thing for me to do is write and publish the best books I can, hoping that some of the people who do read my books will want to spread the word.  Because that’s how most of my potential audience will discover my writing.  Word of mouth.

So it’s great when a reader likes one of my books enough to tell friends, family, and co-workers.  It’s even better when someone leaves a review somewhere.  Whether that’s on a retail site or a social network or a bulletin board – or just commenting on twitter or any of the other places people share – it amplifies their voice to reach many more potential readers.  Even the shortest review that says something about what they did and/or didn’t like about a book will help.

Yes, even a negative review can be good.  If it’s honest and describes how that reader responded to my book, it will help others decide if that book is for them.  And I really don’t want to sell my stories to people who won’t enjoy them.  In the long run that doesn’t do them or me any good – remember, I’m trying to reach the right readers.

But before I can expect people to start talking, first I need them to read one of my books, and most people balk at buying even an interesting sounding story when they have no idea whether or not other people have liked it.  That’s why it’s important to give away copies.

Handing out books to friends and family isn’t enough – I need to get them into the hands of strangers.  So I give away copies to interested readers using platforms like Goodreads.  Some of those people will actually read my book, and some of them may even write a review.  And while I can politely ask people to leave their comments somewhere, it’s up to them whether they’ll do that or not.  But the more copies I can give away, the more likely one of those finds its way into the hands of someone who’ll really love it and want to talk about it.

I also approach book bloggers and regular reviewers who might be interested in my work.  Giving them free books in exchange for their honest reviews is a great trade for both sides – it also benefits readers, who get an objective and considered opinion about the book.

Even with all that though, it takes a long time for word to filter out.  So the best thing any writer can do is be patient and keep writing, one book after another.  And if writing is your calling, that’s the fun part.

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